Sunday, December 11, 2011

Man of Numanthia

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a dinner at Geoffrey Zakarian’s The Lambs Club in NYC with Estate Director Manuel Louzada, from Bodega Numanthia, to introduce three different vintages of Termes, Numanthia and Termanthia.

Born in Portugal, Louzada lived in Spain for ten years, where he developed a love for the sea as well as a more introspective way of looking at life. He studied agriculture, engineering, and agronomy and eventually returned to Portugal where he set to work making Port wine. In 1999 he moved to Argentina to make sparkling wines for Bodegas Chandon where the focus is on detail.

His three year plan, turned into nine, and he eventually moved to Numanthia in Spain in 2008. “Character and concentration are the trademarks of the Toro region wines, and we want to be truthful to soul of the wines,” notes an enthusiastic Louzada.

Numanthia was founded in 1998, and in 2006 the partners sold to Moet Hennessey. Some of the uniqueness of Toro wines is rooted in the fact that some of its vines are 60 to 200 years old.

I asked Manuel, how his experience with Port and Champagne influenced his winemaking…

“The influence of Port is about character -- it’s about power,” says Louzada. “It’s about trying to understand the massive strength of nature. When you taste Port wine for the first two years, I can assure you it’s not a very pleasant sensation, because of the alcohol, because of the amount of tannins, because of the fruitiness that seem overwhelming. What makes the big difference is the development of understanding of those powerful details.”

“Champagne on the other hand is the opposite. It’s how a single 1%, 2%, 3% of the most delicate wine makes such a big difference, so it’s about small details; it’s how the small percentages change the character of a wine. Blending it was a beautiful exercise, because when you taste base wines, whatever you have in thebase wine, good or bad, is going to be multiplied by a thousand because of the carbonic. So I had a lot of fun learning about, and making sparkling.”

“When blending Termanthia I had to choose between 22 or 23 barrels -- deciding which of the 20 I’m going to use-- there anything more detailed than that? You have to be able to figure out how to get to the picture you have in your head.”

Tinta de Toro

The Spaniards of the region call it Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo). A typical Tempranillo will usually display a full, muscular body and a viscosity with dark purple colors woven with aromas of black currants, violets, licorice and caramel. The bouquet may blend into a palate of plums and dark chocolate, all working to create a soft but supple wine with a long dusty finish... the better ones are a very nice balance of tannins & acidity.

A Quick Study of the 3 Vintages

The Termes 2007 was a warm vintage with elegant and delicate tones, while the 2008 Termanthia was a more traditional vintage with a beautiful combination of fresh fruitiness and tannic structure and concentration, with 2009 presenting yet another warm vintage concentration, highlighting extremely soft tannins. Louzada explains that some wines can be drinkable upon release but can be equally palatable in 30 years.

Tasting Notes and Pairings

Termes 2009

The first up is the Termes 2009... 100% hand harvested, 4 months in stainless steel tanks, then aged in French oak barrels for 14-16 months. (The 2008 was expressly fresh fruit, while the 2009 was slightly warmer vintage like 06, 03 with a level of intensity, and lots of character). Aromas of raspberry, strawberry, fruity, sweet lush tannins, lively vibrant fruit character. nice structure, toasted, cedar, layered juicy texture on palate. Paired beautifully with Beef Carpaccio with Piquillo Pepper, Egg and Jamon Serrano, delicate nuances, which rounds out the tannins. SRP $30

Numanthia 2007

Numanthia 2007, 100 year old vines, 18 months in French oak, more concentration, more complexity in the fruit, more aging, 100% new oak, a bit toastier and spicier, so you can feel the intensity of power and remarkable balance. On the palate, dark chocolate, cassis and spice. Paired with Veal Chop, Soubise, Summer Squash. SRP $60

Termanthia 2008

"Termanthia 2008 is a the expression of a single plot that is 120-140 year old vines, and explosion of fruit fresh cherries, like a bomb, complex so everything that we do has to be the most delicate winemaking technique to try to dominate that force, that strength of nature. Hand de-stemmed, crushed by foot, twice thru new barrels." Paired with Lamb Loin with Stuffed Piquillo Peppers and Eggplant. Can be aged for 30 years. SRP $200

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